After each side has presented its case in a drunk driving trial, the attorneys give closing arguments. For a skilled DUI / DWI criminal defense attorney, it is the time to point out to the jury that the prosecutor has not met his burden in proving each element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Because the prosecutor has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he or she has the luxury of arguing both first and last. After the prosecutor’s closing argument, the defense will make its own closing, and then the prosecutor has an opportunity to rebut. This may seem like a daunting hurdle to overcome, but a well-crafted closing argument for the defense will address any questions the prosecutor poses to the jury.
A strong closing argument in a DUI defense case will remind jurors of their responsibility to deliver a not guilty verdict if the prosecutor has not proven every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The attorney will remind jurors that in circumstantial evidence cases with two reasonable views of the evidence, the jury must adopt the one that points to innocence.
An experience DUI defense attorney will use this reminder to cast doubt on every possible aspect of the prosecution’s case. For example, if the arresting officer testified that the driver performed poorly on a field sobriety test because he was intoxicated, and the defense introduced evidence that any physical impairment stemmed from an old injury, the jury must accept the explanation that points to the defendant’s innocence.
The defense attorney will then go through the holes in the prosecutor’s case and the alternative explanations presented by the defense. The DUI defense attorney will remind the jurors of the testimony of any defense witnesses, such as the defense expert, the defendant, or any alibi witnesses. Finally, the defense attorney asks the jury to remember the oath they took to follow the law, and the jury instructions that the judge will give them.
A seasoned drunk driving criminal defense lawyer will integrate jury instructions into the closing, remind the jury of the prosecutor’s burden of proof, and give a summary of the defense’s case. He or she will then ask the jury to render a just and fair verdict of not guilty.